Miami FL (18-8, 8-6) at Virginia (18-8, 8-6)
When: Monday, February 20th 2017
Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Miami Hurricanes and Virginia Cavaliers will try and break a tie for sixth place in the ACC as the two teams, who are going in opposite directions, meet Monday night in Charlottesville. The ‘Canes have shot up the conference standings by winning four of their last five games including a 71-65 win over Clemson on Saturday, but they’ll be without their second-leading scorer once again. Ja’Quan Newton (15.0 points/game) will miss his third straight game for violating team rules as the Hurricanes start a stretch in which they play three of their next four on the road. The Hurricanes don’t have the greatest depth as it is, and without Newton, that makes the work even harder on both ends of the floor, not just on offense. Senior guard Davon Reed leads the team in scoring (15.7) and 3-point field goals (67, 41.4%) while freshman guard Bruce Brown (11.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists) is also a threat. Senior forward Kamari Murphy leads the Hurricanes in rebounding (7.6) and is shooting 52.9% from the field after making 19-of-23 shots in the last four games. Miami will host Duke on Saturday before ending the regular season with two road contests (Virginia Tech, Florida State).
While the Hurricanes have strung together a few wins lately, the Cavaliers seem to be faltering. Virginia has dropped three straight games and five of their last seven and are no longer contenders for the conference title. The Cavaliers still lead the nation in scoring defense (55.8), but are giving up 66.2 per game over the last five and that is due primarily to their poor shooting on the other end of the floor. The Cavaliers have still found ways to win games without superior scorers, but it may be starting to catch up with them. Senior guard London Perrantes (12.6) is the only player scoring in double figures, as he’s up his play, averaging 15.2 in the last six games. He also leads the team in assists (3.8) while junior guard Marial Shayok (9.7) in points scored. Junior forward Isaiah Wilkins tops the team in rebounding (6.3) and freshman guard Kyle Guy is third in the league in 3-point shooting (46.6%) despite missing all three of his attempts in a 65-41 loss at North Carolina on Saturday. The Cavaliers have won four of the last five meetings, including a 73-68 victory in the ACC tournament semifinals last March.
It might sound ridiculous to lay double-digits on a team that is struggling like Virginia, but they need a win badly and the Hurricanes are still without a key player and have zero depth. Virginia’s defense will step up tonight and the perimeter shots will go down against Miami.
Pick: Virginia -10
HEAD TO HEAD